'The Modern Girl's Guide to Sticky Situations,' by Jane Buckingham

You've been winked, at my friend, and like in the nondigital world, winking is a fairly risk-free way of showing interest in a person. It also doesn't mean a whole lot. If you're interested in the winker's profile, wink back and see if he responds with an actual message. Or message him yourself: "Thanks for the wink -- what's your story?"

You've been messaging back and forth, but no date. What's up?

Foreplay is great, but we ultimately all want to get to the main event, right? This love letter purgatory could be the result of simple shyness or insecurity -- many people have an easier time communicating through writing than through speech. The medium allows a person not only to think through his or her responses but also to fit flirting into a crammed schedule. In this case, you may want to give the guy a nudge. Suggest that you meet in person to further discuss your mutual love of experimental fiction.

It's also possible that the dude is just enjoying the flirtation but, for whatever reason, has no intention of meeting up. This scenario is a good reason not to indulge in prolonged e-mails before a first date. Why waste your time? Another good reason to get the party started: two people who have top-notch banter may also have zero chemistry. All it takes is a quick drink to discover where you stand with someone.

You've met the perfect guy online . . . but he lives across the country. Should you buy a plane ticket?

Start with Skype -- it's free and will give you the chance to see your man in motion. Still interested? As romantic as it sounds to run away for a weekend of passion, it is best to build a meeting into a bigger trip. Have a friend you've been wanting to visit in his hometown, or a business trip a state away? In the case of a risky meeting like this, you want to have a clear escape route (and an alternative fun time) in the plans if your attraction turns out to be limited to pixels.

Your long-distance guy turns out to be as irresistible in person as he is in e-mail.

Prepare yourself for some steamy weekends -- and some big decisions down the road. A long-distance relationship can keep the infatuation fresh, but it can also leave you feeling lonely and unsupported on the day-to-day stuff.

You think this guy's a little too perfect. He must be married, right?

Okay, there are some bastards out there who use online dating to get a self-esteem boost or to find their next (often unwitting) mistress. A little judicious Googling now is okay when looking for previous -- or current -- marriages! Otherwise, look for the usual signs -- is he always unavailable on weekends, or does he never invite you over to his place? Trust your instincts.

You receive a message from a man you don't find physically attractive.

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